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Friday, 1 June 2018

It's that Ugly Question Again -and a warning to wannabe comic creators.


Above: it was this or Patreon....

Real comic creators are very few and far between.  It is why there are so many dilettantes around -people who want to pretend to be "graphic illustrators" or the ones who give the game away by calling themselves "cartoonists" which is nothing to do with a sequential artist or strip illustrator or...comic artist.

Today, I was asked by someone at an art department at a UK college, whether I would like to offer advice and encouragement to young people wanting to work in comics?  It seems that my name is on some list of professionals to contact.

My reply was "No".  He was taken aback and when I explained how much work was involved in putting a 20 pages comic together he seemed taken aback. Yes, this lecturer/teacher whatever they call them these days was rather staggered at the time involved in putting a comic together.  Really.  He seemed to think that digital art was easier.  In some ways it is as I've seen comic artists who scan in most things they draw so that if it comes to "man running" they can call up the file and do a paste job (digitally).  But it is still not a couple of hours work.

I explained to him the truth about working in comics. He thought you could just go to Marvel or DC and ask for work (yes, I was wondering what they were paying him). So I explained it all and he seemed to suggest more and more that I just did not want competition for my comfie life style. I decided that rather than tell him where to go I would explain how "comfortable" my life style was.

I'm 61 on 6th June. Once you get over 40 the small press see you as dead in the UK. There is no real work (paying) in the UK. I have written short and long scripts, graphic novels and even drawn them. I know the ins and outs of the industry and have a hefty chunk of knowledge on comic books world wide. 40 years experience.  It means nothing.  I heavily promoted UK comics and the Small Press and never asked for anything in return (but I didn't expect people (the 'nice guys' and their pals in UK comics) to actually write me out of both fields online or put pressure on others to delete mentions of my work and so on.

I have health problems.  If you've read CBO long enough you know that. There is no health insurance or body to fall back on if you work in comics and hit hard times. Those are the times when everyone you have ever helped get into comics decide you are unknown to them! You are on your own. If this happens to former big names in the US comic history then it should be expected in the UK since you "only write and draw comics -not a proper job".

I had hoped that my books would at least sell modestly -10 online pages and 90 plus books- but no one wants to buy comics unless its DC, Marvel, Image, IDW or Dark Horse.

  So I have to fall back on a state benefit.  They give me £100 (114 Euro or $133) a week. Not bad?

 Remember we pay high prices in the UK for everything and some Americans and people from the EU are shocked when they go shopping here!). So, first thing I do is pay the bills and that leaves me £45 (51 Euro/$60) which tends to whittle down quickly.  It means that travel (public transport in the UK is not cheap) is restricted to doctor and hospital and even that can some times get cancelled. On a daily basis I have no idea what I'll have for a meal -sandwiches one day or, like today, some not very good potatoes and beetroot.  It's food. I don't eat fancy but who gives a crap.

"Well there is always Patreon!" chirped in the whatever his job description is. No. If I cannot earn a living by selling my books then I am certainly not going to the internet equivalent of holding a begging tin on a tree corner.

I chose comics and publishing as a career.  That was my decision and, were I to go back to the 1970's I would repeatedly punch my (presumably astonished) younger self in the face while shouting "NO! COMICS -NO!  COMICS -NO!!"  I do not have mummy or daddy to bail me out and even if I did I would have more dignity and self respect than to do that.

There was a silence. "Could you put a positive spin on that for students?" I was asked.  I responded: "After what I have just explained to you? I will say 'good day' to you because my only other response is rude." End of conversation.

You want to get into comics? DO NOT. Stack shelves in supermarkets because, if you get through the four interviews to do just that job it is still far more rewarding financially than working in comics.  Probably meet a nicer class of person, too.

I'll not apologise. Get rid of the rose-tinted glasses.


UPDATE

No, in answer to the question asked, there are NO GRANTS or SUPPORT of any kind for comic creators or artists in the UK.  This isn't Europe you know.  Germany wants to offer me a grant I'll be over there like a shot!

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